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Thread: Tell me everything you know about THIS bass sound

  1. #11
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    That's the thing - There's nothing at all exceptional about that sound. It's a simply arranged and simply (and notice - very quietly and consistently) played part that just fits well with everything else. There's no slappy-poppies, there's no Ricky growl, no flash, almost no dynamics, no nothing. Just solid stuff by a solid player sitting inside a solid mix.

    If you could solo it, you'd probably be wondering why it's so boring.

    Not hearing a mute (the better players didn't need them anyway), very little compression if any (the decay on the sustained notes sounds freakishly natural). Might be direct, might be an amp - Seemed easier to get that "plain" sound from an amp. Too much "direct" (?) sound going direct. That's not to say it can't be done or anything... With SL on the "probably flatwound" part (again, I think everyone back then used flatwounds unless they were slappers). Less slide noise, more mass, better wear, more sustain with a very light touch. Just a lot of 'neck' pickup with the tone knob turned down.

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  4. #13
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    Me too - I went to the video expecting something unusual, but that's just solid motown from that era - how bass used to sound before people started with the gadgets, gizmos and processing.

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    I never noticed before how much is panned on this song and on Superstition. Its like 50/50 on all instruments except vocals, bass, funky keyboard.
    DM60 Tunes: The Collection

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    I did read, years ago, that there was a cut of 6dB at 100Hz, a boost of the same at 200 and, sometimes, a little peak at 3 KHz but that sounds too "tweaked" for the gear at the time. I do know that 100 - 200 thing works well.
    def flats & fingers though.
    I'd like to recreate Carol Kayes tone - or the bass on the 1st few Scott Walker albums.

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    Quote Originally Posted by rayc View Post
    Thanks for this, very cool. Aside from the fact that this wasn't Jamerson, it's all really good info.
    famous beagle

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    Quote Originally Posted by Massive Master View Post
    That's the thing - There's nothing at all exceptional about that sound. It's a simply arranged and simply (and notice - very quietly and consistently) played part that just fits well with everything else. There's no slappy-poppies, there's no Ricky growl, no flash, almost no dynamics, no nothing. Just solid stuff by a solid player sitting inside a solid mix.

    If you could solo it, you'd probably be wondering why it's so boring.

    Not hearing a mute (the better players didn't need them anyway), very little compression if any (the decay on the sustained notes sounds freakishly natural). Might be direct, might be an amp - Seemed easier to get that "plain" sound from an amp. Too much "direct" (?) sound going direct. That's not to say it can't be done or anything... With SL on the "probably flatwound" part (again, I think everyone back then used flatwounds unless they were slappers). Less slide noise, more mass, better wear, more sustain with a very light touch. Just a lot of 'neck' pickup with the tone knob turned down.
    Really? Sounds like classic mute sound to me. Listen to the note that's sustained while Stevie finishes the line "Like a fool I went and stayed too long." It just about dies two beats later.

    Definitely flats, no doubt about that.

    And it's not that this sound is exceptional. I mean ... I love it, but it's not a unique tone at all, obviously. I guess I should have clarified more in my original post: it's the way it sounds in the mix. I know the tone is classic Motown tone, but it's just so incredibly clear and fat in this song in particular. If you listen to other classic Motown tracks, like "What's Going On" or "Reach Out (I'll Be There)," for example, the bass tone is similar, but it just doesn't sit in the mix like it does on "Signed, Sealed," IMO. It's as if there's as much space for the bass as there is for the vocal.

    Maybe a better title for this thread would be "Tell me everything you know about the bass sound in this mix."
    famous beagle

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    Quote Originally Posted by rayc View Post
    I did read, years ago, that there was a cut of 6dB at 100Hz, a boost of the same at 200 and, sometimes, a little peak at 3 KHz but that sounds too "tweaked" for the gear at the time. I do know that 100 - 200 thing works well.
    def flats & fingers though.
    I'd like to recreate Carol Kayes tone - or the bass on the 1st few Scott Walker albums.
    Carol Kaye has said that her studio tone was much brighter than what appeared on the records. She used a pick always.

  10. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Robus View Post
    Carol Kaye has said that her studio tone was much brighter than what appeared on the records. She used a pick always.
    In that case, I'm glad the studio did what they did! I'm not a big fan of bright bass tones.
    famous beagle

  11. #20
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    Many ways to break down the sound. The way it sits in the mix sounds like a Fender bass. Something about the midrange. Flats with or without a mute. I read that he used to stuff a wet cleaning sponge under the strings sometimes. Big fundamentals with very little overtones. Obvious stuff. It's like a textbook example of a P-bass.

    Slightly less obvious, Motown bought very little in the way of gear. They made a lot of it themselves. I think that's part of the sound. You're not hearing Neve or Trident or API. It's a big, clear P-bass with very little processing. Another curious thing - this was probably not done at the Detroit facility, but a guy that worked there often described their mic locker. A bucket of 16 KM 86's. That's it. Maybe there's something about using the same gear over and over - same mic, same pre, no mixing and matching this and that - which gives phase coherency you don't get otherwise.

    Not sure if I agree with Massive about soloing the bass. If you could, I think it would sound like something's missing for sure. It lives in the rhythm pocket of the song. You can feel that "energy lives here" kind of sound. Very tightly controlled finger technique. Nothing to "fix in the mix". It IS the mix. If you could put Bob Babbit through Lemmy's rig, what would that sound like?

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